Friday, August 30, 2013

Star Power (the video) from PPPL

Star Power (the video) from PPPL

With gorgeous video records of our sun (from TRACE and SOHO), PPPL has produced an inspirational video about fusion energy research. See

The video includes speeches by President Obama and Kennedy and notes the long-time international collaboration for fusion research.

They video makes clear the enormous challenges that must be overcome to make fusion practical. By including the testimony of the young students, they correctly imply that it will be the next generation of fusion scientists that will make fusion practical.

There are discoveries ahead!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Powering the Future: What will fuel the next thousand years?

CBS NEWS/ August 26, 2013, 5:40 AM

Many thanks to CBS Interactive and to Chenda Ngak for their work in creating a timely and well presented interview and discussion about fusion power.

Besides highlighting the differences between fission and fusion, the article put into perspective the time horizon for viable commercial energy. 

We have discoveries to make along the way to "age of fusion energy", sometime in the later half of this century

See video and article at CBS Interactive.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Energy Secretary Moniz Address's Climate Action Plan

Just returned from today's special address from Energy Secretary Moniz:

He focused on urgent tasks in support of President's Climate Action Plan and described the importance of his near-term agenda to the New York City metropolitan area. He delivered a very knowledgable talk and handled well the rude comments about fracking and radiation leaks from nuclear power plants.

I was disappointed from the lack of any direct comments about discovery-based long-term science research (like fusion science), but this forum was not the place.

Standing room only.

Wonderful to be at Columbia University!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Laboratory Magnetospheric Experiments at MIT

This week, August 14-16, 2013, I was part of the LDX Team conducting new experiments with the world's largest laboratory magnetosphere. 

The MIT-Columbia LDX experiment is the U.S.'s only steady state plasma confinement device. Very sophisticated superconducting magnets. A circular, high-field magnet is charged with 1.2 MA, and a carefully controlled "levitation" magnet is used to suspend the dipole magnet for hours of continuous experimentation.  Scientists for today's run: Jay Kesner, Darren Garnier, Phil Michael, Alex Zhukovsky, Rick Lations, Matt Worstell, Paul Woskov, Mark Chilenski, and (my daughter) Marin, shown in photo below:

The first day of running was productive in every respect. Fortyseven "shots" were taken. Cryogenics, control, power, heating, data acquisition systems were flawless. (Congratulations to the LDX Team!)

The new 0.4 mm CH pellet shaker worked well, showing interesting "pinch"/"pump-out" phenomena. New microwave diagnostics showed promising results. New multifrequency ECRH programming showed a clear relationship between resonant zone location, hot electron production, and plasma density.

Key Results

The direction of the particle pinch following pellet drop reverses depending upon the rate of gas fueling and plasma density. Pellet drops with low fueling (low density) result in an inward particle pinch. (See shots 011-013.) At higher fueling, the pellets caused particle "pump-out", an outward pinch. (See shots 025 and 035.)  At intermediate fueling, pellet drops caused no change in the density profile. In all cases, with full-power multi-frequency ECRH, the plasma profile appears "stationary" (and strongly peaked) indicative of the turbulent self-organization we've seen previously. Fast videography indicate that the pellets do not penetrate deeply into the plasma, so these overall "pinch"/"pump-out" effects are dramatic examples of non-locality: fast changes in the edge cause global responses to the plasma density profile.

The programmed timing of the 2.45 GHz changed from our usual "wedding cake" program (early shots < 014) to an "inverted wedding cake", where the 2.45 GHz was on from 2-8 sec. This made the production of trapped, hot/warm electrons by the 2.45 GHz obvious. 4 kW of 2.45 GHz heating produced > 100 J of plasma energy (> 25 msec energy confinement). (Probably, it also broadened the pressure profile and increased the radius of the plasma ring current.) Interesting, the 2.45 GHz did not change the plasma density to the same degree as it changed the plasma energy. In contrast, higher frequency ECRH produced plasma energy less efficiently, but it was much more efficient at producing plasma density.

Reflectometer results showed effects from the plasma cut-off, but further analysis (and signal processing) is required to determine whether a density profile can be obtained. Wed's run scanned only 4-6 GHz, but today's run will scan 4-8 GHz.

Broad-band fluctuations were observed with the 28 GHz homo-dyne receiver, which may become a useful diagnostic on global plasma fluctuation levels.

More Experiments Today!